Test/review of Charger Xtar VP4 Plus Dragon

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HKJ
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Test/review of Charger Xtar VP4 Plus Dragon

Charger Xtar VP4 Plus Dragon
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Xtar has many good LiIon chargers, this is the new top of line model. It can charge 4 round cell, a 3S battery pack and a smartphone, it can also measure capacity, or work as a power bank and it has a cell resistance and voltage meter.
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It comes in a cardboard box (I got the charger without a box and the pictures is supplied by Xtar).
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In the box is a bag that contains the charger and accessories, there is also an elastic strip to hold batteries.
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The contents of the bag is the charger, a power supply, the resistance (IR)/voltage probes, car charger, instruction sheet, welcome note and warranty card.
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The probes are four terminal and uses a usb connector. The 4 terminal connection means that it will automatic compensate for any wire resistance and connection resistance at the charger, but it cannot compensate for connection resistance at the battery with the supplied probes.
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The probes are spring loaded and has a rough surface to get better connection.
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The charger has a DC connector for power input, two usb connectors, one for the IR probes and one for power output. There is also a JST-XH connector to charge a 3S LiIon battery pack. Because the charger is “only” charging at 1A this function do not need the main connection to the battery pack.
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The charger has a large screen, four leds and 3 buttons:
Current/Refresh button: A short press will change current setting, a long press will start a refresh cycle.
Display: A short press will change between displayed slots (With 1 or 2 batteries the display will always show the correct slots), a long press will set the display to lowest brightness, a double click will return to main screen.
Record/Test: A short press will recall test data (The result of test runs is automatically saved), a long press will start a test cycle, a double click will turn sound on/off.
When showing recorded data the buttons has functions to step between records and delete records.
When display brightness is reduced the first keypress will restore it to full brightness.
The leds uses colors to show the functions:
Blue: Discharge, this is valid for both refresh/test and power bank function.
Red: Battery charging
Green: Battery full or slot empty
Off: Battery empty in power bank or power bank not turned on.
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Here is the full display captured during power on.
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Normal charging at 1A.
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Discharge during refresh mode, the blocks are animated to show that the charger is discharging.
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When volt/ohm mode is enabled and the probes connected to a battery the display will change between ohm and volt.
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The 3S charging do not have much display space, only one icon, flashing while charging and steady when done.
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The charger uses the typical construction with a slider, this time with a very long connection at the plus pole making it possible to handle D and 32650 cells. The slots can handle from 30.5mm to 72.8mm.
supportedBatteryTypes
supportedBatterySizes
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The charger can handle 70 mm long batteries, inclusive flat top cells.
Measurements


  • Power consumption when idle is 1 watt (2 watt before display reduces brightness).
  • Without power it will discharge the battery with about 7mA (280mA with display on at full brightness).
  • A full LiIon battery will be discharged with 0.4mA when charger is powered.
  • At 0V battery voltage the charger will report error.
  • From 0.01V it will start a regular charge
  • Above 2V the charger assumes LiIon
  • Charge will restart if battery voltage drops to 3.9 volt.
  • The charger will restart when a battery is inserted or power is cycled.
  • The charger has a optional beeper.

Lion charging
The LiIon charging can charge 4 cells with 0.5A or 1A and two cells with 2A.
Xtar%20VP4plus%201A%20%28PA18650-31%29%20%231
This is a good CC/CV charge curve with termination current around 80mA
Display shows 2916mAh
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The other slots are also fine. On #3 the charger starts reducing current a bit earlier for some reason.
Display shows: 2766mAh, 2860mAh, 2900mAh
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The 2600 and 3400mAh cells are handled fine.
Display shows: 2599mAh and 3232mAh
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The old 2600mAh cell is mostly charged in CV mode (As expected), the charger handles it fine.
Display shows: 2253mAh
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I did get time for a single run with my new test cell, it works as expected.
Display shows: 3384mAh
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Charging with lower current will reduce the termination current to about 40mA (Good).
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This works very well with the small cells.
Display shows: 717mAh and 488mAh
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The charger can charge two batteries at 2A, this is for larger cells and high current cells. The termination current is increased to about 120mA.
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At 1A it is possible to charge four cells.
Display shows: 2918mAh, 2899mAh, 2917mAh, 2931mAh
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Using my own 12V supply I can see it uses a bit below 2A when charging.
Temp3732
M1: 33,1°C, M2: 34,4°C, M3: 34,5°C, M4: 32,2°C, M5: 36,2°C, M6: 36,6°C, HS1: 49,2°C
Temp3733
M1: 33,5°C, M2: 35,1°C, M3: 35,2°C, M4: 33,4°C, M5: 42,1°C, M6: 36,0°C, HS1: 44,5°C
PowerOnLiIon
The charger needs about 8 seconds to initialize, before it will charge.
CurrentChangeLiIon
It is possible to change current at any time during a charger.
LiIon Refresh
The refresh function will discharge and charge a cell, the display will show both discharged and charged capacity.
The discharge current is either 0.25A or 0.5A, depending on selected charge current.
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With 1A charge current the discharge current is 0.5A and the cell is discharged down to about 2.6V, this is fine for most modern cells. After the discharge there is a 5 minute rest, before the cell is charged again.
Display shows: dis:2916mAh, charge:2925mAh
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The other 3 slots looks the same.
Display shows: dis: 2783mAh, 2840mAh, 2851mAh, charge: 2804mAh, 2872mAh, 2843mAh
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With 0.5A charge current the discharge current is 0.25A.
Display shows: dis:2897mAh, charge:2946mAh
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At 2A charge current the discharge current is 0.5A, i.e. the same as 1A discharge current.
Display shows: dis:2927mAh, charge:2942mAh
Xtar%20VP4plus%20refresh%201A%20%284xPA18650-31%29
It is possible to refresh four cells at a time.
Display shows: dis:2819mAh, 2962mAh, 2930mAh, 3051mAh, charge: 2929mAh, 2953mAh, 2974mAh, 2983mAh
Temp3754
M1: 38,3°C, M2: 40,5°C, M3: 39,6°C, M4: 36,0°C, M5: 46,7°C, M6: 44,8°C, HS1: 59,5°C
Discharging LiIon the charger needs to get rid of some heat. It handles it fine without a fan, the cells stays at an acceptable temperature.
DischargeLiIon
The discharge is done with constant current, not pwm (nice).
LiIon Test
The test mode will charge, discharge and charge again. Used discharge current is the same as in refresh mode.
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Charging first means the full capacity is measured during discharge.
Display shows: dis:2873mAh, charge: 2885mAh
NiMH charging
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The charger starts with a low charge current (0.1A), before it switches to the selected current. On this charge curve it uses a voltage termination followed by a two hour top-off charge of around 50mA
Display shows: 1622mAh
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With these two cells it uses a -dv/dt termination, but they still gets the top-off charge.
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And here is another voltage termination.
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The 3 high capacity cells are handled fine. Termination is a bit slow on the worn down eneloopXX, but that is acceptable.
Display shows: 2597mAh, 2433mAh and 2449mAh
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It do also terminate at 0.5A on a AA cell.
Display shows: 1831mAh
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No problems with the AAA cell. The top-off is still two hours, but with lower current (nice).
Display shows: 620mAh
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The 2A charge is also started at low current and looks fine.
Display shows: 1666mAh
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Due to the first 10 minutes at low current it takes about 13 minutes to detect the full cell. This time on voltage, it will use longer time if it needs to use -dv/dt detection.
Display shows: 53mAh
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Four cells at once.
Display shows: 1813mAh, 1719mAh, 1856mAh and 1793mAh
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Using my own 12V power supply I can see the current drain is about 1A.
Temp3743
M1: 38,2°C, M2: 40,1°C, M3: 38,5°C, M4: 37,9°C, M5: 37,3°C, HS1: 48,6°C
PowerOnNiMH
The charger needs between 6 and 7 seconds to initialize a NiMH charge. The low current charge will last for 10minutes, before the charger switches to selected current.
CurrentChangeNiMH
It is possible to change current at any time. As usual with NiMH chargers the current is turned off for voltage checking.
TopOff0.5A
Top-off charge is done with pulses at the selected current. The top-off current will be about 6% of the selected charge current.
TopOff2A
Here is the 2A top-off pulses.
NiMH Refresh
Refresh mode will discharge and then charge the cell. Discharge current will depend on selected charge current.
0.5A charge means 0.25A discharge, 1A and 2A charge means 0.5A discharge.
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The charger insist on doing the 10minutes low current charge, before starting on the discharge. The discharge is down to about 0.85 volt. After the discharge there is a 5 minute pause, before the battery is charged.
Display shows: dis:1921mAh, charge 1702mAh
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Display shows: dis:1889mAh, 1846mAh, 1880mAH, 1877mAh, charge 1926mAh, 1692mAh, 1876mAh, 1665mAh
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With 0.5A charge current the discharge current is 0.25A.
Display shows: dis:1931mAh, charge: 1926mAh
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At 2A the discharge is 0.5A
Display shows: dis:1889mAh, charge: 1692mAh
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The charger can discharge four cells at once.
Display shows: dis:1904mAh, 1866mAh, 1919mAh, 1898mAh, charge: 1877mAh, 1863mAh, 1907mAh, 1891mAh
Temp3752
M1: 32,9°C, M2: 34,3°C, M3: 34,1°C, M4: 32,0°C, M5: 35,1°C, M6: 34,7°C, HS1: 43,4°C
The charger stays cool when discharging NiMH batteries.
DischargeNiMH
The discharge current at different charge settings.
NiMH test
The test will charge, discharge and charge again.
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The charger do not use a top-off charge before discharging when terminated on voltage, this may give a slightly low capacity for some cells.
Display shows: dis:1868, charge: 1701
3S battery pack
The charger can also do a balancing charge on 3S battery packs with a JST-XH connector.
The charger do not use the main leads to the battery pack, only the balancing connector, this is acceptable due to the fairly low charge current (For a RC pack).
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The charger uses a 1A charge current and will do a CC/CV charge. It looks like there is a slight voltage difference between the charged cells (This test was done with new unused cells).
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Here the battery pack contained 1 full cell and two empty cells. The charger balances them fine.
Charge3S
During charge the current is pulsed, probably to allow measuring without have trouble with wire resistance.
Internal resistance and voltage measurement
To start IR measurement the probes must be shorted, to leave IR mode double click the display button, the charger will also leave IR mode after about 10 minutes.
Due to the way the measurements are done the charger can only measure batteries, not resistors.
RILiIon
The above values is with LiIon cells, the result is a little bit on the low side, but very consistent.
RINiMH
With NiMH the results are a better, but due to the 150mOhm maximum I could not do the last row.
RImeasurement
The RI is measured with a short 1A current pulse
RIfrequency
A new measurement is done each 2.5 seconds.
The voltmeter function works from 0.66V to 4.49V and is within 0.01V
The probes must not be used on the batteries in the charger!
USB output


  • Does not turn output off automatic when unloaded.
  • Usb output uses automatic coding with Apple 2.4A as maximum.
  • When running usb output on batteries the blue leds (discharge) is on.
  • When running usb output on batteries display is on and shows charge state.
  • When running usb output on batteries usb output need a load of at least 100mA.
  • The usb output has a fairly high current drain, also when off. I.e. do not store batteries in the charger.
  • It is possible to charge batteries while usb output is used.
  • The charger will not work as UPS, usb output turns off when mains voltage disappears.

Xtar%20VP4plus%20%28PA18650-31%29%20load%20sweep
With a single 18650 battery I could draw about 2.2A before output voltage starts to drop. Output is switched off at 2.7A.
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With four batteries the output can be maintained up to 2.7A.
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With external power it can also deliver 2.7A.
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With four batteries it can maintain 0.5A output for about 11 hours.
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Using only one battery the time is down to 2½ hour.
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At 1A the output can be maintained for 6 hour.
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And at 2A it will maintain output for 3 hours.
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With one battery it will maintain output, but not for very long.
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With mains power and 2.5A out it did run for one hour.
The IR photos below are taken about 45 minutes into the one hour run.
Temp3746
M1: 39,8°C, M2: 37,2°C, M3: 45,5°C, HS1: 51,7°C
Temp3748
M1: 45,3°C, M2: 56,5°C, HS1: 92,9°C
Temp3749
M1: 51,4°C, HS1: 63,9°C
10ohm
As a power bank the usb output has very low noise, at 0.5A it is 8mV rms and 58mVpp.
5ohm
At 1A it is 13mV rms and 78mVpp.
2.5ohm
At 2A it is 27mV rms and 133mVpp
10ohmMains
The noise is also very low when mains powered. At 0.5A it is 25mV rms and 119mVpp.
5ohmMains
At 1A it is 23mV rms and 104mVpp.
2.5ohmMains
At 1A it is 20mV rms and 131mVpp.
Testing the transformer with 2830 volt and 4242 volt between mains and low volt side, did not show any safety problems.
Conclusion
This charger has many functions with a fairly simple user interface:

  • Charging LiIon works perfectly as expected, the display shows a charge percent, not a voltage. This can be discussed, the percent is better at showing charge status (Voltage would show 4.2V during CV state, % can reflect charge current), but many people (including me) like to see the voltage.
  • Charging NiMH also works perfectly.
  • Refresh is used to cycle a cell, can be useful for a NiMH that has not been used for some time.
  • Testing gives an estimate of capacity and will keep an log over tested cells. The usefulness of the log can be discussed, but it is useful if you remove the batteries or turn the charger off before noting the numbers, the log will remember them.
  • Charging 3S pack, I do not really know how useful this is, there exist many pack sizes (2S, 3S, 4S, 5S, etc.). I would have liked an output to charge a 2S bicycle pack.
  • Internal resistance/voltmeter, this is with separate probes. This gives very consistent results when measuring IR, much better than the typical in slot measurement on some chargers, the voltmeter is also good.
  • Usb output is both a power bank and a normal usb charger with, it has a auto coding chip, low noise and can deliver 2.4A making it fairly universal.

It is a very good charger, but for some people it is probably for simplified.
Notes
The charger was supplied by Xtar for review.
Here is an explanation on how I did the above charge curves: How do I test a charger

My website with reviews of many chargers and batteries (More than 1000): https://lygte-info.dk/

lightx
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Thanks HKJ for another excellent review.

RollerBoySE
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Thanks for the review!

Obviously the SkyRC MC3000 has a lot more functionality, but if you compare the basic charging function: Which is the better charger, Xtar VP4 Plus Dragon or SkyRC MC3000?

HKJ
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RollerBoySE wrote:
Obviously the SkyRC MC3000 has a lot more functionality, but if you compare the basic charging function: Which is the better charger, Xtar VP4 Plus Dragon or SkyRC MC3000?

They are about the same, the MC3000 is much more flexible and also more precise with capacity (At least after a calibration).
Except the internal resistance, the probes makes the Dragon really good at that.

My website with reviews of many chargers and batteries (More than 1000): https://lygte-info.dk/

hank
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Quote:
It is a very good charger, but for some people it is probably for simplified.

um, something missing in “for simplified” — ?

HKJ
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hank wrote:
Quote:
It is a very good charger, but for some people it is probably for simplified.

um, something missing in “for simplified” — ?

There is no voltage or current readout, all slots always has same function and same current.

My website with reviews of many chargers and batteries (More than 1000): https://lygte-info.dk/

ferongr
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HKJ wrote:
There is no voltage or current readout, all slots always has same function and same current.

And it costs at least $80 (depending on store). I wonder which market segment Xtar targets with this. BLFers and electronics geeks would rather buy the MC3000 for the same price, the “average” user with a couple of lights and 3-4 protected cells would not spend so much on a charger. Wonder whether Xtar marketing had a stroke.

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Is it true the MC3000 had problems with the negative terminal spring attachments breaking? I read that on CPF a while back. Have they fixed the problem?

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ferongr wrote:
HKJ wrote:
There is no voltage or current readout, all slots always has same function and same current.

And it costs at least $80 (depending on store). I wonder which market segment Xtar targets with this. BLFers and electronics geeks would rather buy the MC3000 for the same price, the “average” user with a couple of lights and 3-4 protected cells would not spend so much on a charger. Wonder whether Xtar marketing had a stroke.

I do find it rather strange as well. I mean even on lights like the Nitecore TM26 and Imalent DDT40 you have a voltage readout; really cool to see how much voltage sags under load. Even during internal charging you see the voltage instead of some progress bar… Ok, the readout is not accurate but it’s there at least. This charger is definitely more advanced both in features as well as in price, so it just doesn’t make sense…
I also expect individual readouts per cell from such a charger. Xtar are you reading this!? I still love Xtar though…

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Thank for the review HKJ.
Lets hope this is in stock in Australia soon.

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ferongr wrote:
HKJ wrote:
There is no voltage or current readout, all slots always has same function and same current.

And it costs at least $80 (depending on store). I wonder which market segment Xtar targets with this. BLFers and electronics geeks would rather buy the MC3000 for the same price, the “average” user with a couple of lights and 3-4 protected cells would not spend so much on a charger. Wonder whether Xtar marketing had a stroke.

Until this charger goes down to around $30-40 probably won’t have mass marketing sales. Its a nice charger no doubt. I like the voltage readouts more then percentage. But considering a liito 500 is $18-$20 and a opus is $30 and can do discharge functions. Its accurate enough to give you a idea about your cells capacity. I figure in a couple years it will come down in price. Until then I’ll stick with opus and liito Kala. I do have a vc2 I use its a nice charger. But no way I’ll ever pay $80+ for a charger. Around $30 is my limit

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Thanks for the review, a lot of work went into this!

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Thanks for the review, i’ve added a link in my impressions of this charger thread to this review

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will34
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Thanks for the extensive review!

I don’t understand this new path Xtar is taking with its chargers… no real time voltage or current readout, and instead of that an inaccurate % bar, in what’s supposed to be an “advanced charger”. The only reason I see someone would buy the dragon over the MC3000 is not having to set a program for each slot previous charging, which is really tiresome if you charge different capacity cells on a daily basis.

It seems obvious that they are targeting non-technically-oriented consumers instead of hobbyists or enthusiast.

atbglenn wrote:
Is it true the MC3000 had problems with the negative terminal spring attachments breaking? I read that on CPF a while back. Have they fixed the problem?

Yes and very badly. All four bays in my unit broke, and by the third time I had to disassemble my charger to fix it the screw holding posts broke as well… so I had to shut it close permanently with glue.

The charger itself is amazing, but the plastic used to make the casing is of extremely low quality. Not sure if the problem have been fixed already but it would be laughable if they haven’t, the solution is simple and takes a minute to do using just precision pliers.

Henk4U2
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Thank you for the work you put into this review HJK. And now hoping there soon will be a flash-sale with this charger Wink

You are a flashaholic if you are forced to come out of the closet, to make room for more flashlights.

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I wouldn’t buy just because of no voltage readout. One thing all these charger companies need to add, is a function to discharge a cell down to 3.5 or 3.6v and shutoff, for storage purposes.

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Great review, thanks

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Quote:
One thing all these charger companies need to add, is a function to discharge a cell down to 3.5 or 3.6v and shutoff, for storage purposes.

+1

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RobertB wrote:
I wouldn’t buy just because of no voltage readout. One thing all these charger companies need to add, is a function to discharge a cell down to 3.5 or 3.6v and shutoff, for storage purposes.

This is a dead battery, 3.8V is about 40-50%, the ideal storage voltage.

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hIKARInoob
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Bort wrote:
RobertB wrote:
I wouldn’t buy just because of no voltage readout. One thing all these charger companies need to add, is a function to discharge a cell down to 3.5 or 3.6v and shutoff, for storage purposes.
This is a dead battery, 3.8V is about 40-50%, the ideal storage voltage.

It depends on the cell in my opinion. 3.6V for a Sanyo 2600 = almost dead, whereas for the GA there is plenty of juice left.

Bort
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hIKARInoob wrote:
Bort wrote:
RobertB wrote:
I wouldn’t buy just because of no voltage readout. One thing all these charger companies need to add, is a function to discharge a cell down to 3.5 or 3.6v and shutoff, for storage purposes.
This is a dead battery, 3.8V is about 40-50%, the ideal storage voltage.

It depends on the cell in my opinion. 3.6V for a Sanyo 2600 = almost dead, whereas for the GA there is plenty of juice left.


Double check that, but keep in mind people have Sanyo cells, as well as every other brand. according to battery university ideal storage is at about 40%.

The Journal of Alternative Facts TM

"It is critical that there is a credible academic source for the growing and important discipline of alternative facts. This field of study will just keep winning, and we knew that all the best people would want to be on board. There is a real risk in the world today that people might be getting their information about science from actual scientists"

 

 

 

hIKARInoob
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Bort wrote:
hIKARInoob wrote:
Bort wrote:
RobertB wrote:
I wouldn’t buy just because of no voltage readout. One thing all these charger companies need to add, is a function to discharge a cell down to 3.5 or 3.6v and shutoff, for storage purposes.
This is a dead battery, 3.8V is about 40-50%, the ideal storage voltage.

It depends on the cell in my opinion. 3.6V for a Sanyo 2600 = almost dead, whereas for the GA there is plenty of juice left.


Double check that, but keep in mind people have Sanyo cells, as well as every other brand. according to battery university ideal storage is at about 40%.

I use HKJ comparator, and see that you have about 1/3 of mAh left with Sanyo GA at 3.6V, at reduced voltage of course. A lot has changed in five years time, such as chemichal composition of Li-ion, and I do wonder to what extent these rules of thumb from back then are valid. I wouldn’t be surprised if things have changed a bit.
Let me give you an example. I’ve heard often that self discharge of Li-ion is 1 year. I’ve experienced a couple of times from charging old cells that I haven’t touched a couple of years that they still had a decent voltage; I was really like wut?

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Bort wrote:
according to battery university ideal storage is at about 40%.

I’ve seen the figure 40% in lots of other places too.

So instead of basing it upon a voltage figure, wouldn’t it be better to discharge 60% of the measured capacity?

Bort
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hIKARInoob wrote:
Bort wrote:
hIKARInoob wrote:
Bort wrote:
RobertB wrote:
I wouldn’t buy just because of no voltage readout. One thing all these charger companies need to add, is a function to discharge a cell down to 3.5 or 3.6v and shutoff, for storage purposes.
This is a dead battery, 3.8V is about 40-50%, the ideal storage voltage.

It depends on the cell in my opinion. 3.6V for a Sanyo 2600 = almost dead, whereas for the GA there is plenty of juice left.


Double check that, but keep in mind people have Sanyo cells, as well as every other brand. according to battery university ideal storage is at about 40%.

I use HKJ comparator, and see that you have about 1/3 of mAh left with Sanyo GA at 3.6V, at reduced voltage of course. A lot has changed in five years time, such as chemichal composition of Li-ion, and I do wonder to what extent these rules of thumb from back then are valid. I wouldn’t be surprised if things have changed a bit.
Let me give you an example. I’ve heard often that self discharge of Li-ion is 1 year. I’ve experienced a couple of times from charging old cells that I haven’t touched a couple of years that they still had a decent voltage; I was really like wut?


I agree, with every battery being different you need to go by the battery your storing. This means a charger that allows a storage voltage would need to be adjustable
Self discharge in healthy cells is negligible unless its connected to a device with an electronic switch/circuitry or is a protected cell which has built in circuitry.
RollerBoySE wrote:
Bort wrote:
according to battery university ideal storage is at about 40%.

I’ve seen the figure 40% in lots of other places too.

So instead of basing it upon a voltage figure, wouldn’t it be better to discharge 60% of the measured capacity?


Thats the basic idea, or charge to 40% if the battery is already drained

The Journal of Alternative Facts TM

"It is critical that there is a credible academic source for the growing and important discipline of alternative facts. This field of study will just keep winning, and we knew that all the best people would want to be on board. There is a real risk in the world today that people might be getting their information about science from actual scientists"

 

 

 

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THANKS FOR THE REVIEW HKJ!

Thanks everyone for ALL your input. the more I read this the LESS I want this charger!

-No Voltage read out

-No current readout

- From what I see only displays 2 channels at a time on the LCD screen, 1 & 4 OR 2 & 3! WHY not 4, unless I am missing something. I have yet to see a photo of ALL Four bays displayed w/ info.

-Of course the price!

-$69 was the cheapest I saw it on Fast Tech w/ BLF code [USA Power supply version]

-Ordering from China not something I have done too much. I much prefer the customer service in my country,,,no worries!

Those are more than enough reasons for me! Wink

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